Prorocentrum micans

General Dinoflagellate
Shape Heart- or tear-drop-shaped
Size Length 35 - 75 μm, width 20 - 50 μm
Colour Golden-brown
Connection None (solitary)
Covering Cellulose Close


(plural: thecae) Cell wall. In dinoflagellates, it is composed of cellulose plates within vesicles (Horner 2002).



(plural: flagella) A tail-like projection that sticks out from the cell body and enables movement.

Two unequal flagella


An organelle in the cell that contains the cell pigments (Horner 2002). This is where photosynthesis occurs. A chloroplast is a specialized chromatophore.

Two golden-brown, located peripherally
Lifestyle Close


An organism that is both autotrophic (photosynthesizes or chemosynthesizes) and heterotrophic. That is, it can gain energy both from light (or chemical) energy and also by consuming other organisms. This allows such organisms to take advantage of different environmental conditions.

. Asexual.


A rapid increase or accumulation of algal populations in an aquatic system. This will likely involve one or a few dominant phytoplankton species. This follows seasonal patterns (i.e., spring, summer or fall bloom) with dominant species being those that are best adapted to the environmental conditions of that time period. Discolouration of the water may be observed because of the algae's pigmentation. Blooms are often green but may be yellow-brown or red depending on the species present.

Late summer in coastal environments
Harmful effects None known
Habitat Close


Describing shallow, near-shore areas and the organisms that live there. Refers to shallow marine waters ranging from the low tide mark to the continental shelf. Varying amounts of sunlight penetrate the water, allowing photosynthesis by both phytoplankton and bottom-dwelling organisms. Close proximity to land favours high nutrient content and biological activity (Encyclopedia Britannica 2011).

, Close


Of or relating to estuaries.

and oceanic
Geographic Cold temperate to tropical waters
Seasonal Late summer to autumn
Growth Conditions


The dissolved ion content of a body of water. Can be measured in the following units: parts per thousand (PPT or ‰), practical salinity units (PSU), and absolute salinity (g/kg). PPT is measured by weight, denoting the number of parts salt per thousand total parts or a value of 10-3. PSU measures the conductivity of saltwater and compares it in a ratio to a standard KCl solution (because this is a ratio, salinity measured in this way can also be written without units). The newest unit of salinity is absolute salinity, which uses the mass fraction of salt in seawater (g salt per kg seawater) rather than its conductivity (TEOS-20 2010).

34 (optimal)
Temperature 2 - 26 °C (optimal)


Cercaria sp. Michaelis 1830
Prorocentrum schilleri Bohrn 1933
Prorocentrum levantinoides Bursa 1959
Prorocentrum pacificum Wood 1963
(Smithsonian 2011, Guiry and Guiry 2011)


Empire Eukaryota
Kingdom Protozoa
Subkingdom Biciliata
Infrakingdom Alveolata
Phylum Dinoflagellata
Class Dinophyceae
Order Prorocentrales
Family Prorocentraceae
Genus Prorocentrum
Species P. micans Ehrenberg 1833

(Guiry and Guiry 2011)


Prorocentrum micans is a marine, bloom forming, and mixotrophic dinoflagellate (Smithsonian 2011, Guiry and Guiry 2011). It is mostly solitary but may be found in pairs during reproduction by Close

Binary fission

A form of asexual reproduction where one cell divides into two identical cells. All prokaryotes and some eukaryotes reproduce in this manner. Compare with mitosis, where the nucleus must also divide, adding an extra step to the process.

binary fission
(SAHFOS 2012).


Cells of Prorocentrum micans are highly variable both in shape and size (Smithsonian 2011). It is tear-drop or heart-shaped and broadest at its centre. Cells are round Close


The front. The part of the cell in the direction of movement. Opposite of posterior (HPP 2003).

and pointed Close


The back end of a cell. Opposite of anterior.

(Smithsonian 2011, SAHFOS 2011). There is a well-developed, short and winged Close


In some diatoms, "closed or solid structures projecting from the cell wall;" in dinoflagellates, solid projections that usually taper to a point.

originating from the anterior of the cell (Smithsonian 2011, Kraberg et al. 2010). Small pores originate from the cell Close


The outline or border that defines the shape of an organism or cell.

forming a unique pattern that runs towards the centre of the cell (Kraberg et al. 2010). The cell also has large pores posteriorly (Smithsonian 2011). Pores are most easily seen in Close


(scanning electron microscope) A microscope which applies "a focused beam of high-energy electrons to generate a variety of signals at the surface of solid specimens" (NSF 2011).

. Prorocentrum micans has a large kidney-shaped Close


(plural: nuclei) In eukaryotic cells, a membrane-bound organelle that contains the cell's genetic information; the nucleus controls the activities of the cell by controlling gene expression.

and two Close


A membrane-bound organelle found in some protists, containing a water solution of organic and inorganic molecules (including enzymes). In some cases, vacuoles may contain engulfed solids (Falkowski et al. 2004).

at the posterior (Dodge 1982).


Length: 35 - 75 μm
Width: 20 - 50 μm
(Smithsonian 2011)

Similar species

Prorocentrum micans is similar to Prorocentrum gracile, but the pore pattern can be used to distinguish between these two species. P. micans is the only Prorocentrum species that has both small and large pores (Kraberg et al. 2010).

Harmful effects

Prorocentrum micans can form extensive blooms, but it is considered harmless (Smithsonian 2011). It may excrete chemicals that inhibit diatom growth, but these substances do not affect organisms in higher trophic levels (Smithsonian 2011). High cell concentrations deplete oxygen causing fish kills (Red-Tide 2011).


Prorocentrum micans is mainly found in neritic and estuarine waters, but it has also been observed in oceanic environments (Smithsonian 2011). It is believed to tolerate high salinity because it is found in hypersaline lagoons in the Caribbean islands (Steidinger and Tangen 1997).


This species is Close


Widely distributed; occurring in many parts in the world.

in cold temperate to tropical waters (Horner 2002). It has been observed in North Sea, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the Mediterranean (Kraberg et al. 2010).
Prorocentrum micans blooms in late summer to autumn (Horner 2002).

Growth conditions

Abundant in coastal water around the world, especially during late summer and autumn (Kraberg et al. 2010)

Environmental Ranges

Depth range (m): 0 - 470
Temperature range (°C): 2.063 - 26.120
Nitrate (μmol L-1): 0.350 - 24.140
Salinity: 31.144 - 37.163
Oxygen (mL L-1): 4.709 - 7.510
Phosphate (μmol L-1): 0.083 - 1.585

Silicic acid

A general term to describe chemical compounds containing silicon, oxygen and hydrogen with a general formula of [SiOx(OH)4-2x]n. Diatoms polymerize silicic acid into biogenic silica to form their frustules (Azam and Chisholm 1976).

(μmol L-1): 0.754 - 19.032
(EOL 2011)

Bloom characteristics

Prorocentrum micans is abundant in coastal water around the world. It especially blooms late summer and autumn (Kraberg et al. 2010, SAHFOS 21011).


Dodge, J. D. 1982. Marine Dinoflagellates of the British Isles. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, UK. 303.

Encyclopedia of Life (EOL). 2011. Prorocentrum micans Ehrenberg 1883. Accessed 26 Dec 2011.

Guiry, M. D. and Guiry, G. M. 2011. Prorocentrum micans Ehrenberg 1833. Accessed 27 Dec 2011.

Horner, R. A. 2002. A Taxonomic Guide To Some Common Phytoplankton. Biopress Limited, Dorset Press, Dorchester, UK. 200.

Kraberg, A., Baumann, M. and Durselen, C. D. 2010. Coastal Phytoplankton Photo Guide for Northern European Seas. Verlag Dr. Friedrich Pfeil, Munchen, Germany. 203.

Red-Tide. 2011. Prorocentrum micans Ehrenberg 1833. Accessed 27 Dec 2011.

Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (SAHFOS) 2011. Prorocentrum micans Ehrenberg 1833. Accessed 28 Dec 2011.

Smithsonian Institution. 2011. Prorocentrum micans Ehrenberg 1833. Accessed 28 Dec 2011.

Steidinger, K. A. and Tangen, K. 1997. Dinoflagellates. In: Tomas, C.R. (ed.) Identifying marine Phytoplankton. Academic Press, Inc., San Diego. 531.

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